Stuck in the Mud
Feeling sad or disappointed about something that has happened is normal. In fact, it's healthy. But being sad is different than having and stating self-defeating statements that undermine our ability to deal with the situation. It may feel good in the moment... but at the end of the day, we're just hosting a pity party, and inviting all the phrases that validate this, to come and be entertained.
Having a pity party is like being stuck in the mud - spinning tires and getting nowhere. It costs us time, energy, and confidence.
How do we get stuck in the mud? And does anyone have a tow rope?
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I want to talk to you about your Facebook friend. You know the one – Has a gorgeous house. Always clean in the background of photos showing off a perfectly happy family. They have a rewarding career; couple vacations a year. And you know they do because you see the photos… which by the way look like they’ve been taken by their own personal travelling professional photographer.
Oh, you know the one I’m talking about now? Yaa. That one. And I mean, you’re not a petty person. You’re definitely not hateful in any way… but do you ever see one more photo scroll across your page and you feel your eyes roll back into your head, while you think, I just don’t like them today?
Ya, that happens. It does. I can assure you of that. But I have to tell you, although it sometimes makes us feel better in the moment… that costs us something.
Let’s keep going ahead to look at this closer. Because I think we are under the perception that as long as we roll our eyes, and keep scrolling, we aren’t letting it bother us. In fact, we are taking an active role… haha – see what I did there. An active role, an active eye roll if you will, to deal with our feelings and keep going. As if that was us letting it go.
But the problem we had in the first place was the envy we feel every time this person’s name or photo graces our screen.
And I’m not even taking about envy specifically today, but more about the thoughts that get in the way of us being mentally strong when we think of our own lives.
Just on that thought about envy though, research has shown that envying your friends on Facebook can actually lead to depression. That is our mental health regarding our own lives being affected.
Have you ever watched your neighbor pull their new vehicle into their driveway and thought, “must be nice”?
Have you complained about your boss, been embarrassed about your kids, or looked at your partner picking their teeth from their lazy boy recliner across the room and thought of all the people you know with perfect bosses, perfect kids, and picture-perfect partners and thought… “why do they have all the luck?”
And I mean it’s not all the time. It’s not 24/7. It’s after a hard day at work, it’s after the school calls home, it’s right after a home-cooked meal where it went unnoticed and underappreciated - again.
And honestly, it did make you feel better for a moment. Like rolling your eyes and continuing to scroll. It made you feel justified in your disappointment, when you compared your life to the life of someone who seems to have it all. You almost felt heard and validated because you acknowledged your own thoughts, and your feelings. Which is a good thing.
But this kind of thinking, comparison and self-pity, undermines you’re your own life, your ability to handle whatever it is, and the resiliency to be strong again after something difficult.
Now again, it’s completely normal to be sad about something that has happened. We could be upset about something that was scary, confusing, unfortunate, frustrating and on and on. But that’s much different from self-pity.
Feeling all the feels that accompany a difficult or uncomfortable experience is healthy. Self-pity though, takes a shift from the feelings and places it on the event itself - with a spotlight. Or magnifying glass.
If we say things like “why does this always happen to me? Why do I have all the bad luck? Why does the universe hate me?” We start chipping away at any belief we may have had, in our ability to persevere, overcome, bounce back, or at least deal. And we do have the ability. We don’t need to be our own worst enemy when we are struggling. Life is hard enough as it is.
When we are saying things like “why do these things always have to happen to me?”, we are internalizing unhealthy beliefs about ourselves. Again, this is different than being sad for something we are experiencing. This is about pitying ourselves. Phrases like “why do I always have to be dealing with this?”, are phrases that support thinking that is stuck in the mud. You can talk and talk and talk to yourself about this being terrible, and non-stop, and unfair… but that’s the same as spinning and spinning your tires in the mud. You aren’t focused on any possible solutions here. You’re just stuck.
Even if it is a situation that doesn’t have an apparent solution or answer to fix everything, there is always something you can do for comfort, reassurance, or support.
But that is hard to do when you are really busy hosting a pity party full of guest that come in the form of self-defeating thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes we aren’t as stuck, or just stuck in the unhealthy beliefs we may carry about ourselves. Sometimes we feel stuck because of the unhealthy beliefs we carry about other people.
We may give WAY TOO MUCH POWER to other people when it comes to OUR LIVES.
And again, this is taking the focus away from anything that could be helpful to us in this circumstance. And it’s not just saying “I don’t have what it takes to deal with this”, but it says “they do. They have the power to deal with this and they won’t”.
This is still much like having a pity party, but it’s trying to blame someone else as if they forced you to host it . Really, at the end of the day, that makes no sense and just can’t happen.
BUT it can feel like that eye roll, can’t it? It feels like you are somewhat dealing with it. Because you took the time to validate your feelings and put the blame where it lies. NOT ON YOU. NO, remember, you were forced to have this pity party. After all, life is hard but someone else could have made it easier for you, and they didn’t.
And let me say… while that may be absolutely true, life may be way harder than it has to be due to someone else’s choices or behaviors or influence… no one should get that kind of power handed to them. The power to decide how your life is going to play out.
There is always a way to ask someone to help you work on a plan to take your life back, place in some needed boundaries, or just make a plan for change.
We do have the choice to continue to blame others for our life, to give them that power, but that is still us stuck in the mud, spinning our tires.
Now we’ve talked about giving our power and focus to a problem or a situation and defeating ourselves in the way we talk or think about our inability to handle it.
We’ve talked about giving our power away to someone else and deciding we have no control over a situation.
Is anything ringing a bell here at all. Remember the episode about private logic. We talked about our private logic being how we see and think about ourselves, others, and the world around us?
Now if we’ve talked about two ways, we get stuck in the mud being the way we think about ourselves, and the way we think about others….
Can you guess what I’m going to say next about another way we can get stuck?
Yep, Nailed it. It’s the world around us. How we think about the world around us is another possible place where we get stuck in the mud.
If we think the world owes us, then we will never be happy with what we have so far. What we’ve worked hard for and earned.
However, if we think the world is out to prove that we don’t belong and have no rights to be here… we either live a lonely, sad life, or we overwork ourselves in an attempt to earn our place and prove our worth. And that’s not healthy either. That is a tiring life with little pay off if any.
But in our episode about private logic, we talked about these beliefs being born out of the experiences we have had thus far in life. We talked about how they are taught to us by family and friends as we grow, and they are engrained in us through our day-to-day experiences as we grow.
They makes sense to us. They are our realities. But we can’t afford to just accept them if they have us stuck in the mud.
Being stuck means we are not going anywhere. There will be nothing new to see, experience, to get to know, or find.
Being stuck is exhausting. Spinning and spinning day in and day out. Never a momentum to ride and or coast on. Just effort. Constant effort that drains your energy over and over again… with no results.
And we can say but that’s someone’s choice to think and feel that way, and to ultimately stay stuck. That is their decision. That is their prerogative.
And that is correct.
But I think we need to be really careful deciding that someone has made a choice to live in the mud, stuck and spinning their tires, UNTIL we know that they knew there was another choice.
Because again, these are the thoughts and feelings born out of the experiences they have already had in life. This is their norm.
If they were born into or at least grew up in mud, what else would they know? You can’t ask them to compare mud to grass or pavement if they have always been in the mud.
Honestly, it’s like asking a tiger born in a zoo if they miss the jungle. And then thinking poorly of them for not trying their hardest to escape to get back to it.
They’ve never known the jungle. And that is sad.
We operate in what we know. And even if it feels like torture because it really is torture to live a self-defeating life, it is still somewhat comfortable because it is familiar.
And again, that is sad.
But beyond it being sad… it is dangerous. Because there will be a time in life when we will need to muster up all the mental and emotional strength we can. To survive the event or circumstance at hand.
And that will be difficult to do when we are already exhausted from spinning our tires in the mud.
It will be hard to do when we have already decided that we don’t have what it takes to deal with life being so hard. We don’t have what it takes because someone else has all the luck. It works out for everyone except us. It works out for people like that horrible friend on Facebook. But not me. It does not and will not work out for me this time either.
I won’t and can’t possibly get through this because it is out of my hands. If only my partner would see what they needs to do and be who they needs to be. If only my kids would get their life in order. If only my boss would see what value, I bring to the table. If only my parents would work to understand me, if only…
If only the universe would cut me a break. See how hard I’ve worked. Give me what I deserve - if I actually deserve anything at all.
I can tell you that life is going to throw things at you that will all but, or totally destroy you if these are the only thoughts you are able to muster.
You may be stuck in the mud, but if you don’t ask someone to throw you a tow rope, that mud can turn to quicksand in the right circumstances.
I remember a time of having everything I ever wanted. A house in the country. A family. A clothesline, a garden and couple of horses. Literally what I dreamed of as a little girl. I had the career I wanted, and it was even family-founded and family run.
And within a couple of years, my mom was gone, which changed my work experience as well, my great friend was gone, I had been diagnosed with cancer and had a huge surgery and even my garden and horses were gone too.
I have had days where I have sat and thought, you have got to be kidding me. I’ve hosted pity parties. I had so many guests there in the form of thoughts and feelings. One by one I opened the door and allowed the guests to arrive and mingle and overstay their welcome.
Oh, it’s “why did this have to happen to me?” – come on it.
Hey, “I can’t believe I’m going through this again” is here – come on in.
Well, if it isn’t “can my life get any worse?” – how ya been? – come on in.
I served them food and beverages and entertained them for days. And you know what happens when you make the guests of your pity party really comfortable? They don’t leave.
And that makes it really easy to stay stuck in the mud of their existence.
Spinning tires. And getting nowhere.
We have to get tired of being tired. Tired of working so hard and seeing no results.
We have to stop and take a look at who is sitting in the room eating our finger foods and drinking from a punch bowl.
If it isn’t anything determined to find a solution, offer support or guidance, or help build a plan for change, they need to head out now.
But here is the tough part. They don’t want to go. They are comfortable. They have been engrained as your private logic. What you think to be the truth about who you are, who others are, and the way the world is.
They’ve become habits in the way you think.
Habits aren’t created overnight. And they may take longer than a night to undo. But do you know what takes habits longer to break? Never starting to work on them. Never saying this is the day I’m going to commit to a new way of thinking.
This is the day I’m going to look realistically at my circumstance, allow myself to feel sad about it if I need to, but work to look for either a solution, some support and guidance, or a plan to make some changes. That’s the new habit I’m going to work on having. That’s the tow rope I’m going to use here.
The more you let yourself have your feelings, without pitying yourself for the reasons they showed up, the more you’ll also feel confident to handle them the next time life happens to you.
The more you learn to take control of your situation instead of putting it in the hands of someone else, or blaming them for what is going on, the more confidence you’ll have as life continues to happen.
The less we compare ourselves to others, and the way their life looks so perfect, the more we’ll be able to find the beautiful things we are grateful for in ours.
And the more you see this world as a place you belong in, without having to prove it, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it here, without looking for where it owes you, or you owe it.
If you want to make changes in your world, you first have to believe that you can change it.
I believe you can change it. I believe you can change your world. Changes that will end up feeling like you could change the world. Cause you could. You can. And I think you will.
And I think there is a piece of you that knows that too. Let’s throw a tow rope to that piece of you today. And get unstuck. And that piece can turn around and keep pulling all the pieces out of the mud.
Before long you’ll see that you’re throwing a tow rope to a friend, a family member, your partner, your kid.
Cause new, great habits, great ways of thinking can become life-changing for you, but also for many people around you. You’ll see.
Thanks for another great time spent together today. Until next week, this is Tina saying good-bye for now, and we’ll speak again soon.